Paris Saint-Germain showed grit, determination and a desire to earn an opening day win for the first time since 2010. Lucas Moura’s goal in the second-half was the difference between the two teams despite the champions playing for an hour with 10-men. Adrien Rabiot’s two bookings in the space of six minutes made life difficult but the players on the pitch stepped up to the plate.
One of the main questions beforehand was who was going to start in goal? The new arrival Kevin Trapp was the man to take place in between the sticks and may have just confirmed that he will be the club’s number one this season. Salvatore Sirigu had to watch proceedings from the bench.
Despite not playing a single minute of pre-season due to his commitments in the Copa America and lack of training, Javier Pastore started the game. He was part of the attacking trio along with Lucas Moura and Edinson Cavani. Rabiot who was impressive against Lyon last week kept his place in midfield alongside Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi.
The opening 10-15 minutes was frenetic. It was a terrific advert for Ligue 1 as both teams went at each other which created an end to end spectacle. We looked ever so bright. Very sharp on the ball with quick incisive passing to match. Serge Aurier down the right-hand side was a machine! There was one instance that stands out when Verratti sliced Lille aaprt with a pass to find the Ivorian and his cross into the box was just cut out by a red shirt. It was almost right on the money to Cavani for an easy tap in.
The complexion of the game changed when Rabiot was given his marching orders. He was booked for a reckless tackle on Florent Balmont before losing possession and pulling at the shirt of Sebastien Corchia. It was a shame for him really because bar those two incidents he was having another solid game. Les Dogues were in the ascendency and we were glad to get to half-time.
Thiago Motta – despite wanting to leave and the club president saying he is staying – came on for Pastore. This was a key move as he gave us stability in the middle of the park. As professional a performance you will see and what you come to expect from a man of his experience. He was terrific.
Then the goal came in the 57th minute from Lucas who was by far our best attacking outlet. He took the game to Lille. It is a big season for the Brazilian as he has the undoubted ability to be a talisman for this team. He proved to be a game changer with his goal. Quick one touch football between Cavani and then Matuidi to play LM behind the defence before he rounded the keeper to score. It was exquisite. And you were applauding the football before the ball hit the net it was that good!
The defensive approach was the most impressive aspect for me. The lads were putting their bodies on the line with heroic blocks. Thiago Silva was a catalyst in this sense. He and Luiz were truly brilliant at the back.
Les Parisiens managed to hold on for the win despite a few jitters but nothing too much to worry about. The coach will be buoyed by the manner of the win and it sets us up nicely. Its up to the other title contenders now to show what they can do as we look forward to a home clash next week against the new boys Gazelec Ajaccio.